If you know me, you might know that I love climbing. And that I have been climbing for many, many years now. 11 years to be exact. Every year on the first week of summer vacation my climbing group and I go somewhere to climb. We have been near Berlin, to France, Italy and this year we went a little farther and drove to Croatia. We left the climbing gym very early in the morning and drove for the next 15h. But it wasn’t too bad and when we arrived we were in beautiful Croatia. I’ve been to Crotia couple years ago and one of the things I remembered was that I loved the nature there. And I remembered it right. It is very different to other european countries. There are a lot of mountains and everywhere there are little white rocks. You drive on the highway and the only thing you can see are fields of dry grass, covered in bushes and white rocks of various shapes and sizes. And even though you are in Europe you feel you are somewhere else.
When we arrived at the campground in Paklenicia, our destination, we put up the tents and jumped into the ocean. There is nothing better than jumping into cold water after sitting in a car all day long, that’s for sure! And as lucky as we already were we saw a beautiful sunset while we were in the water.
For the next couple of days we went climbing every day. The only question we asked was “when are we going to the mountains?” So we got up in the morning, ate breakfast, packed our things we needed for the day, jumped into the car, drove about 10 min, hiked for a short time and then climbed until the late evening. Every time when we came back to the campground we jumped into the ocean to cool down a little. I enjoyed it so much. In the US I didn’t really get the chance to climb as much as I normally do, so I was a little worried if I would be still able to climb on the level I used to climb but I quickly realized that this climbing trip was the best I could have done to get back in shape. I climbed much better and harder than I expected and realized once again how much I love climbing, the adrenaline rush that it causes, the feeling of conquering nature and the pure happiness of reaching the top of the mountain and the moment when you are close to giving up but then you make it. Climbing outside, in nature, is so stunning and way better than climbing in the gym.
While we were heading back the sunset was right in front of us. It was so beautiful and everything was covered in bright orange light. And you could only see the silhouette of the mountains. Once again I was so impressed by the beautiful nature of Croatia! Capturing this in a picture while driving in a car was mostly impossible but I tried my best.
The next day our coaches showed us how to climb multipitch routes. When you climb mutlipitch routes you climb higher than normal climbing routes. Wikipedia explains that “Multipitch climbing is the ascent of climbing routes with one or more stops at a belay station. Each section of actual climbing between stops at the belay stations is called a pitch. The leader ascends the pitch, placing gear and stopping to anchor themselves to the belay station.” After our coaches gave us a little crash course half of the group got ready to climb their first multipitch. We were in groups of three and for the next 6h hours we were climbing up the mountain. It was a lot of fun climbing higher and higher. Visitors which were hiking in the park were looking up to us and taking pictures. They looked like little ants. Unfortunately we climbed in the burning sun, it got really hot, the sweat was running down our bodies and we were thirsty. But after hours of climbing we reached the top and I was so happy and incredibly proud. We were 220m (725ft) over the ground. At the top there were some boulders and we hiked for 5 more minutes and then we saw the ocean between other mountain tops. It was such a great feeling. When you reach the very top of the mountain the feeling of conquering the whole mountain by your own strength, fingers and feet is indescribable. After we took a break we started to get ready for the easy part; abseiling. Luckily we didn’t have many complications and reached the bottom quickly. I was so thirsty that I was playing with the thought of drinking the water from the clear mountain stream because at the end we had drank all of our water at the top of the mountain. But all in all is was such an amazing experience!! Oh and by the way the red helmets make you look like your head is gigantic.
After several more days of climbing we drove to Zadar to visit the town. It was a pretty town right next to the ocean with the biggest ice cream scoops I have ever seen. We did some sightseeing, bought souvenirs at a market and had some time to walk around by ourselves.
For the last days we climbed, climbed and climbed. We also did a couple other multipitchs and got stuck once. It was extremely windy by the point we reached our second last stop before the top and decided to start abseiling. Unfortunately the rope got literally blown around the mountain and got stuck somewhere after we abseiled to the next pitch. All eyes were on us. The eyes of my climbing group, the visitors of the National Park and of course the mountain rescue. We tried very hard to pull the rope but it didn’t work. We were stuck about 70m (230ft) steeply over the ground and could not go up or down. We called the other coaches and they climbed the same route we did couple hours before and luckily were able to lose the rope. We were on the mountain for good 9 hours when we touched the ground again. Gosh, it felt like the moon landing and everyone was happy for us to finally be down again.
Here are some more pictures I took in the last days. I hope at least some of them will make you understand why I love climbing so so much.
Oh and here are some of my very favorite pictures. I have to admit, “funky shit” (that’s the name of the route) it is a little too difficult to actually climb it by myself.
The night before our last day two of my friends and I decided to do another multipitch. But this time we would do it in a group of three without a coach. We went over the important things again, got all the material we would need and packed our backpacks so we would be able to leave early in the morning. Paula and I really wanted to take oatmeal, cups and milk to the top because we knew by the time we would get to the top it would be breakfast time. We had to persuade Landewien to agree and after a while he did. The next day we got up at 5:30am, ate a small breakfast and drove to the National Park. We had to hike to the mountain for about an hour and a half so we started climbing around 8:00am. I was a little nervous in the beginning about climbing a multipitch without a coach but in the end I had a lot of fun and was very proud when the three of us got to the top. The view was as always breathtaking! Paula and I ate our very delicious oatmeal and waited for our coaches to come (They went behind us). Absolutely amazing! And getting up so early was totally worth it because we climbed in the cool shade instead of the burning sun.
At the time we got back to the rest of the group they had put up a slackline over the mountain stream. Sweaty from the hike back we were happy to cool down a little in the water. After the break I climbed some more and was amazed by the fact that I climbed on a level of difficulty I wouldn’t have expected. The last route I climbed had a difficulty level of 8a+ in the French climbing system. On the way back we stuck on a sticker at a street sign with the logo of our climbing group, the X-PANDAS, so we would be remembered. Happy but very exhausted we headed back to the camping ground and started packing.
After we finished with packing everyone went for a last swim in the ocean. We were there right in time to watch the sun sinking “into” the ocean. Luckily a friend of mine had a waterproof camera with her so we were able to take some pictures.
The trip to Croatia couldn’t have been better. I’m very thankful to have my climbing group back after being in the US for 11months. Being around them, making inside jokes, climbing and pushing each other to the limits and being accepted for who you are makes me realize how much I missed them. Ok, ok I need to stop being extremely corny. Anyway I really want to thank my coaches Adriana and Clemens and also Axel and David for coming with us. Adriana and Clemens put so much effort in to make our trip happen. In addition I want to let Gunnar and Hugo know that they are very missed. And of course a big shout out to the rest of the group: my “blondinos” Helene and Sophia, Paula, Mira, Leo, Landewien, Jonas, Paco and Benni! I think we have some wicked cool time ahead of us and I hope the X-PANDAS will exist for many, many more years.
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Now my final thought will be an inside joke: DEINE MUDDA!